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BY J.T. WILCOX | Staff Writer
But losing to a team that largely relies on players from your own backyard, that really stings.
Florida State sophomore and Miami-native Dalvin Cook rushed for 222 yards and scored three total touchdowns as Miami lost to their bitter in-state rival for the sixth straight time Saturday night 29-24.
Cook, who was supposed to be nursing a hamstring injury, ran around, through and past Canes defenders all night – including a 23-yard touchdown run with 6:44 left in the fourth quarter that gave the undefeated No. 12 (AP) ranked Seminoles (5-0, 3-0 ACC) the final 29-24 lead.
Miami (3-2, 0-1) took a 24-23 lead after Stacy Coley caught a 29-yard pass – capping a six-play, 83-yard scoring drive – but failed to rally back after the Cook touchdown run once Brad Kaaya had three of his final four passes tipped at the line of scrimmage; turning the ball over on downs with just under a minute to play.
Kaaya finished with 405 passing yards while completing 29 of 49 passes. Cook’s high school teammate Joe Yearby only totaled 33 rushing yards on 15 carries, snapping his streak of three games with over 100 rushing yards. Coley finished with a game-high 139 receiving yards on seven receptions and Rashawn Scott totaled 108 yards on six receptions along with accounting for UM’s longest play from scrimmage of the season – a 58-yard touchdown reception early in the second quarter.
Florida State’s Everett Golson, a senior transfer from Notre Dame, completed 25 of 33 passes for 291 yards with a touchdown.
The Hurricanes return home next week to face Virginia Tech (3-3, 1-1) and FSU will host Louisville (2-3, 1-1).
Coaching = C
The coaching wasn’t that bad Saturday.
Golden didn’t have any egregious missteps in terms of in-game decisions.
A major point of concern is Golden’s choice to continue to start safety Dallas Crawford. Crawford’s deficiencies in the defensive backfield are well-documented, yet Golden continues to start him.
I would have liked to see a better initial preparation for the run-read-option that led to Florida State’s first touchdown of the night, but they did a fair job of in-game adjustments to it.
Third down conversions started off poorly, but they got things together in the second half to finish 8-for-16 – Miami’s best performance in that department of the season.
Beyond that, Golden nor any of his assistants could have tackled Dalvin Cook.
Can’t really put that on them.
Quarterbacks = C-plus
Kaaya struggled early, but once he settled down – he started cooking.
The sophomore flashed the skills that make people regard him as the best quarterback in the ACC.
I wasn’t impressed with some the reads that he made Saturday. He missed on some opportunities that could’ve led to touchdowns – easily. There was one play early in the game where he mishandled a snap and was unable to get the ball to a completely uncovered receiver at the top of the offense.
To his credit, Kaaya didn’t turn the ball over. And he was under pressure a lot, yet stayed in the pocket and delivered throws.
Running Backs = C-minus
Yearby had his three-game 100-yard streak snapped.
He did catch a touchdown pass, but Yearby was largely a non-factor in this game.
Freshman Mark Walton had one carry for three yards and one catch for zero yards – so his impact was less than Yearby’s.
A lot of the running backs’ impact will rely on the play of the offensive line – and they got little help in that department – but still Yearby and Walton have to do their part.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends = B
This group shined on this night.
The healthy return of Coley and Braxton Berrios was very much a welcomed sight. It gave this group more spunk and it made the passing game more dangerous because of the big-play ability of a healthy Coley and the potential mismatches that can be created with the depth of the group.
Coley made the play of the night. His catch in the endzone that put Miami ahead 24-23 was not only a great play, but it was the kind of play that could have been a rallying cry for the Canes’ season.
Unfortunately, Coley left the game after that catch. He landed awkwardly and crumpled to the ground shortly after celebrating the score – once the adrenaline of the moment wore off. He had to be helped to the sideline and wasn’t available for the final drive.
Scott continued to look solid. His catch and run for the 58-yard touchdown showed the physicality that you expect from a receiver his size.
Herb Waters hauled in four passes for 45 yards and eight different receivers or tight ends caught passes on Saturday.
The only negatives against the group came on some missed catches, but in their defense – the throws were high and would’ve required video-game like catches.
Offensive Line = D-plus
The offensive line continues to struggle.
All five guys had issues matching up with FSU’s defensive line.
Trevor Darling was flagged for multiple penalties, Sunny Odogwu struggled on the other edge and worse yet – Miami gave up a sack against a three-man rush for the second straight game.
The team rushed for 20 yards on 19 carries and Kaaya found himself under duress for most of the night.
Defensive Line = C-minus
No pass rush.
That’s been the story for the whole season really – put it’s been magnified the past couple of weeks.
The first half was really bad. FSU’s Everett Golson had ample time to find receivers.
Kendrick Norton Jr. made this group’s best play of the first half when he clogged up the middle to help Miami stop the Seminoles on a 4th and short in the red zone.
In the second half, Al-Quadin Muhammad combined with linebacker Jermaine Grace for a sack, Anthony Moten did put some nice pressure on Everett Golson during one of the second half series’ that Miami forced FSU to punt and Chad Thomas did have a tackle for loss.
But beyond that, this group didn’t do much to help this team come away with a victory.
Linebackers = C-minus
Like the players in front of them, the linebackers didn’t do much to impact this game positively.
Poor angles were taken in open-field tackle situations and overall poor tackling technique jumped off the screen.
Raphael Kirby made a nice hit in the second half, but for most of the night these guys were trying to chase down Dalvin Cook.
Defensive Backs = C
Everett Golson finished the game 25 of 33 for 291 yards with a touchdown.
Golson has played a lot of college football, but he’s not the next coming of Aaron Rodgers.
Corn Elder defended a couple of passes nicely, but Tracy Howard was called for a pass interference penalty that led to a FSU field goal and Deon Bush whiffed badly on his assignment on Cook’s first quarter 72-yard touchdown run.
Special Teams = C-minus
As a whole, this group had little to no direct effect on the result of the game.
Michael Badgley made a 30-yard field goal during the first quarter and that was the highlight of his action.
Both Walton and Elder mishandled kicks but quickly recovered them. However, the group loses grade points because both of those muffs led to the Canes starting deep in their own territory.
Jonathan Semerene kept a very unsavory streak alive. For the fifth straight game Semerene had a kickoff sail out of bounds, leading to the ball automatically being placed the 35-yard line.
Final Grade = C-minus
Miami did look a lot better Saturday than it did last Thursday in the loss to Cincinnati. They played with more energy and had a better overall body language from the start.
But the bitter truth is that Miami was going to have to play its best game of the season to come away with a victory over Florida State.
The Canes did have some bright spots Saturday night: the performance of Coley and Scott in the passing game and the lack of turnovers.
But overall, Miami looked like an average team.
The offensive line continues to struggle; there was a lack of a pass rush up until the third quarter – which has been the case all season; the defense’s tackling woes were evident again and UM failed to establish the run against Florida State.
Miami fought. They fought hard. They took a lead, but when it came down “winning time” they couldn’t make those winning plays on either side of the ball.